Senator Obama was once appalled at what he thought was the outrageous overreach of the Bush administration on the individual liberties of the American people. Today, as President, he has embraced those same policies as his own – and is using his power to spy on you.
These policies may have a greater impact than you could have ever conceived. The government knows every single phone call you’ve made since 2006. Wait, there’s more. The government has access to all of your online activity too! Since 2006 the National Security Agency has laid a dragnet across the entire country and around the world. They have vacuumed up every phone call you’ve made, every text message you’ve sent, they have stored your email, your internet searches, online purchases, website passwords, and oh so much more. In fact the government has direct access to the servers of several internet giants, giving them direct access into the records and private accounts of most Americans.
In case you are concerned that this could be a problem, don’t worry, our government can totally be trusted with all of this information. It’s not like they would ever use private information to attack political foes – oh wait. I guess the IRS and Justice Department scandals would argue that the government might misuse our information.
Let’s start with some eye opening real world practicality. Our technology has developed at lightning speeds over the last three decades and it shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, what we are witnessing is an explosion in information access and the availability of technology. Which means it’s becoming nigh impossible to remain anonymous both in cyberspace and in the real world.
The FBI and the NSA have been collecting information on every phone call from every phone in the Verizon wireless (other carriers are also likely involved) family since 2006. The point of the collection has been to monitor phone and electronic traffic to search for patterns that may lead to the discovery of terrorists and/or terrorist plots. However, this dragnet has not been focused on suspected terrorists or criminals, but has actually involved every American in the system. Today, several of our elected representatives took to the airwaves and presses to assure us that everything is on the up and up and that the government must still go through a secret FISA Court to obtain a warrant to gain access to individual records.
“What’s that? You want to know what a FISA Court is?” FISA Court stands for “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court”, so what business does it have issuing warrants for domestic phone records of American citizens…? Why, that’s an excellent question. The answer is the FISA Court should have no bearing on our phone records. Welcome to Orwell’s 1984.1
Inevitably this is the point in the argument where some of you, dear readers, say “If you aren’t doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about.” Let me say this slowly and with feeling – “That’s not the point!”
The point is that we are a nation of laws. The foundation of those laws being the US Constitution, which clearly delineates what the government can and cannot do. It also takes the time to spell out what rights, we, as citizens, are guaranteed. For example, the police cannot enter my home without a warrant, which can only be acquired with probable cause because of the 4th Amendment. If we are to suspend our rights to promote the safety of the majority, where do we draw the line? Do we allow constant government surveillance of our street? In our homes? Do we submit to regular audits of our bank accounts, or turn in our private journals, to be read by someone at the “Ministry of Information”?2 As we must follow the law. So too must the government.
If we collectively wish to allow the government to do whatever it takes to make us safe – then at that point, just scrap the laws. Until America reaches that point, programs like the NSA dragnet of our phone and digital information must be denounced as an outrageous government overreach.
Disturbing pattern emerging. Govt wants your DNA, prayer content & now…phone records? http://t.co/VxmJBPsLli Where will it end?!
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) June 6, 2013
My friends, we cannot fight for the 2nd Amendment while allowing the Supreme Court and the President to water down the 4th Amendment. We cannot cry out for our Religious Liberties to be protected as demanded by the 1st Amendment when we let the government get away with harassing aggressive reporters and tarnishing the efficacy of the 2nd Amendment.
If we have no right to privacy on our phone calls, or our internet searches, or other technological locations – then in our very near future we will have no right to privacy.
Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) put it well when he said:
“The astonishing amount of information the government is secretly seizing from Americans should shock anyone who has even a passing interest in privacy, civil liberties, or the Constitution,” said Amash. “The government is vacuuming up data on every call made by every customer of a major phone company. This sort of sweeping surveillance is not even plausibly authorized by statute, let alone the Constitution.”
(Here’s more from Rep. Amash on the issue.)